Previous month:
March 2022
Next month:
May 2022

4 entries from April 2022

May is Motorcycle Safety Month: Let’s Watch Out for Each Other

Ah, the sounds of spring: birds singing… and engines revving. 

There is nothing like that feeling of hitting the open road in the springtime. Windows down and music playing, it’s a good time to be driving. I live on a main street, and at this time of year certain car owners gleefully make their presence known. After a long winter of being bundled up, and careful driving through wintery conditions, the temptation to “let her rip'' is hard to resist.

For Canadian motorcyclists, spring has a whole other significance. It’s when many of them get their bikes back out on the road.  I can only imagine how exhilarating that first ride of the season must be. For the rest of us motorists, it can be a bit of a surprise after not seeing them for months, and suddenly a motorcycle appears in our side or rear view mirror (is that a car with a burnt out headlight behind me?). It’s fitting then, that May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Canada and the US.

Motorcycle Safety Month - Watch Out for Each Other

Once again, this year’s campaign by the Motorcycle Confederation of Canada is to Watch Out for Each Other, encouraging motorists to be on the look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists to return the favour. That way, we can all stay safe! For motorists looking to do our part, here’s some tips to consider:

  • Check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists, and be sure to signal before changing lanes.
  • Motorcyclists are entitled to a full lane, just like any other vehicle. Don’t crowd them or try to share a lane with them on the road or at intersections.
  • Motorcycles often aren’t equipped with self-cancelling turn signals, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off, so make sure that bike is actually turning before you make a move.
  • Allow more follow distance when behind a motorcycle, to allow more time and space to react in the case of an emergency stop (for both of you!)

And for our motorcyclist friends:

So let’s watch out for each other! With a little extra care we can make sure we’re all enjoying being on the road this season, and all year long.

Wishing motorcyclists and motorists across the country a happy spring and safe driving!

~  Paul D.


Ensure that You and Your Family are Ready for an Emergency - Emergency Preparedness 101

When I was growing up, my father worked as a safety manager at a petrochemical plant in Alberta. Safety was his job, but also his passion, and so sitting around the kitchen table reviewing our family emergency plan was a yearly ritual: What do we do if the fire alarm goes off? How do we get out of each room of the house? Where do we meet up?

I always found it pretty exciting as a kid, and the importance of planning for the unexpected stuck with me. Also, once I’d moved away from home, I could expect my visiting father to look for the fire extinguishers and ask about my escape route within minutes of setting foot in any new place I was renting - and I’d better be ready with an answer!

Family creating an emergency plan
Family creating an emergency plan

These days, I’ve come to realize that “emergency preparedness” means more than it used to when I was growing up. Every year, the number of severe weather or dangerous environmental situations affecting Canadians seems to increase. The reality is that we could find ourselves encountering a crisis at any time of year, whether we're at home or on the road.

The general guidance from our government is that in the event that we’re cut off from power, supplies and assistance, we should be able to look after our own needs for at least 3 days. This allows strapped emergency crews to focus on the most vulnerable people first.

Despite my upbringing, I initially found the idea of preparing for these types of situations to be a little overwhelming. Putting together an emergency kit seemed like a great place to start. I found a good checklist online and assembled the following:

  • Water: a couple of larger containers and some smaller water bottles that are easier to carry
  • Food: cans, granola and energy/protein bars (small with lots of calories) - and an extra can opener just for the kit
  • This awesome hand-crank flashlight that my mom put in my Christmas stocking one year
  • A tiny little radio that runs on batteries (+ back up batteries)
  • First aid kit - I bought a small one that was pre-packed with all the essentials like bandages, wipes, and ointments
  • Some painkillers, and an extra doses of my allergy medications
  • A key ring with a set of extra house keys
  • An envelope with cash in smaller denominations
  • One of those little toothpastes I got from the dentist on my last check-up, and an extra toothbrush
  • A little bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Candles and matches
  • A photocopy of my passport and insurance info, sealed in a plastic bag
  • An extra charging cord for my mobile phone

I tucked my life-saving kit somewhere out of the way, but easy to grab. As a final check, I made sure my kit was not too heavy or cumbersome to carry should I need to throw it in the car, or travel somewhere by foot.

Packing all the items on the list got me thinking about emergencies in a less panicky and more proactive manner. Now that that was done, what about a plan for me and my loved ones? What happens if an emergency hits, and we’re not together? Where would we meet-up? How would we get word to each other, if communication systems were down? With the help of this online guide I was able to put together a plan that covers those scenarios, and review it with my partner and family.

Of course, my car is the final piece of my emergency prep package. I always make sure its maintenance is up to date and I keep the tank full. That way, in the case of a sudden evacuation order, I’m ready to go. I also keep an extra kit in the trunk packed with anything I might need if I were to be stranded on the road.

This year, I updated my emergency kits by purchasing ones put together by the experts at the Red Cross. The great thing about these is that they are compact, light and packed with all of the essentials mentioned above PLUS some useful extras: Mylar sleeping bags! Light sticks! Multi-purpose tools! I gotta say, these kits feel COMPLETE.

Contents of an emergency kit
Contents of an emergency kit

The world around us continues to be unpredictable, but I feel a little better about things, knowing that I’ve taken some steps to look after myself and my loved ones in the event of a crisis. If you haven’t already, I hope you will too. The first week of May is Emergency Preparedness Week #ReadyForAnything so the timing is just right to give your kits, plans and cars a once over, and make sure you’re ready for whatever surprises might come our way.

How do you stay prepared for the unexpected? What emergency kit items did I forget? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!

(My Dad is going to be so proud when he reads this post.)

~ Paul D.


The Great Canadian Candy Basket

We’re coming up to the Easter long weekend, and depending on your faith and cultural practices, for many Canadians that means treats: hidden around the house, provided by loved ones, or dropped off by a very busy bunny. It’s a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in some sweetness. But did you know that certain candy bars and snacks are unique to our country, and our Canadian identity?

Basket of Canadian Candy and Snacks

A number of years ago, I was given the task of providing a basket of treats for my two American “nieces” who were visiting for the long weekend - the young daughters of my close college friends who had married and moved to the States shortly after graduation. I’m ashamed to say that I totally dropped the ball and was scrambling, the day of, to find a store that was open (Long weekend! Stat holidays!) and that had not been seriously picked over (if you’ve ever tried buying treats after Good Friday, you’ll know what I mean - all the “good stuff” is GONE).

During my desperate search, I stopped to get gas. I went in to pay and, glancing down at the row of candy bars at the counter, I had a stroke of genius: an idea that could turn me from a zero to a hero. Looking at the boxes of Smarties, I remembered my friends once remarking that they DIDN’T HAVE SMARTIES in the States. (They have a candy called “Smarties” apparently, but they are more like our sugary “Rockets”). As the friendly clerk scanned my card I wondered “What ELSE don’t they have?”.

I got on my phone and, after a quick google search, pulled up a list of Canada-exclusive candy. Scanning the list, I grabbed what I could that was in front of me, compiling an alarming array of goodies. Sure, there were no “bunnies” or “eggs” but there WAS delicious, exclusive Canadian content:

ONLY IN CANADA: Smarties, Eat More, Big Turk, Coffee Crisp, Maltesers, Caramilk, Wunderbar, Crispy Crunch, Mr. Big, Jersey Milk and MacIntosh’s Toffee.

And, not specifically exclusive to Canada, but NOT available in the States:

Wine Gums, Swedish Berries, Aero, Crunchie and Dairy Milk.

I topped it off with a bag of Hickory Sticks and Ketchup chips to complete the Canadian experience. The clerk looked at me with an expression that seemed to say hey, no judgement here, I don’t know your life, and said “I guess it's good to have snacks in the car. Just don’t keep them on your dashboard, or the chocolate will melt.”

After thanking her for her good wisdom, I headed to the hotel where my friends were staying. They seemed a little concerned when I presented the enormous stack of candy bars to their wide-eyed little girls but hey, it’s not my job to protect their kids from cavities. It IS my job to become their favourite Canadian “uncle”. Which I am.

The taste test that followed was a group event. The girls have a discerning palette, and had acute observations about our Canadian offerings:

Our chocolate is better, they decided. And it is! Canadian chocolate companies use a different recipe than Americans. The result is a smoother, sweeter, thicker coating. I confirmed for the girls that this has been well documented by the experts.

Big Turk (with its gelatinous Turkish Delight filling) is an acquired taste.

Coffee Crisp may be a national treasure, but it is for grown-up tastes. It was also decided that Dairy Milk’s Fruit and Nut is a chocolate bar… for dads.

Maltesers and CARAMILK beat their American cousins (Whoppers and Caramello) hands down for chocolate coating and quality of filling.

And, Wunderbar lives up to its reputation as the “greatest candy bar ever created,” as reported by the International Business Times.

So now you know. I hope you’ll go into this long weekend with these important lessons: If you are stuck for last-minute candy or snacks, your local Petro-Canada has got your back with a sweet and salty array of goodness. And don’t forget, it is possible to be patriotic whilst enjoying chocolate this weekend. #winning

What Canadian candy bar or snack keeps you fuelled up? Share your favourites in the comments below!

~ Paul D.


#ShineALight on Canadian Family Caregivers

This is a special edition of PumpTalk – brought to you by the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation. Today’s post is written by Leila Fenc, Executive Director, Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation.

This April, we invite you to #ShineALight on family caregivers* with the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation

Did you know that more than eight million Canadians provide unpaid emotional, social and financial support to ill, injured, disabled and aging loved ones?

Family caregivers in Canada make up over 75 per cent of all patient care in Canada and they often feel overwhelmed, overworked, and unsupported for the tireless work they do every day. Family caregivers spend an average of 19 hours per week caregiving in addition to paid work and other family commitments.

I (heart symbol) Family Caregivers.

Kicking off on April 5, National Caregiver Day, the CareMakers Foundation is working to shine a light on the important work of caregivers throughout the month of April.

How can Canadians get involved?

Shine a Light to support caregivers in your workplace, family and community:

  1. Through your social media networks, post a message online about a caregiver you know or why caregiving is important to you. Use #ShineALight #CareMakers and tag @petrocanadacaremakers on Instagram or @PCCareMakers on Twitter.
  2. Visit caremakers.ca to make a donation that helps fund resources, support and programs for caregivers across Canada.

Since launching in 2020, the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation has already awarded national grants totalling $1.7 million and local grants totalling more than $500,000 this year. The funds are used to support critical programs and resources for caregivers. I’ve seen firsthand the importance of these grants and thank you for your support.

Join us in acknowledging the essential work that family caregivers do across Canada and letting them know that we see and support them. Help us #ShineALight on family caregivers.

*Family caregivers are family, friends, and neighbours who provide unpaid emotional, social and financial support to ill, injured, disabled and aging loved ones.